This is a non-profit tribute to the works of JK Rowling who, together with her publishers and licensees, owns the characters and situations elaborated herein.
Sirius looked a question to the other black-haired boy who replied with only a jerk of his chin. They glanced as one at Remus who hadn't spoken a word all evening then Sirius nodded back.
"I'm off to the kitchens," he said, uncurling his elegant length from the bed. "Coming?"
Peter's pointed nose quivered with anticipatory greed. He abandoned his game of Solitaire Exploding Snap and jumped up, mousy hair flying. The cards dropped unnoticed to the floor.
"Great idea, Padfoot," he squeaked.
The question was addressed to both but Sirius's eyes rested on Remus who waved him away without looking up. Dirty-blond hair hid his face as his amber eyes glared down at his Transfiguration book. They might have believed he was studying for tomorrow's exam if he'd turned a page any time in the last half-hour.
Cross-legged on his own bed clutching a button he'd been trying to transfigure back into a beetle, James shared another look with Sirius and ran a hand through his hair. It really wasn't possible to make it messier than it already was. Anyhow the windswept look suited him.
"I'm not bothered to move," he replied. "Bring me some jam tarts though and half a chocolate cake." Moony's favourite. Maybe it would loosen his tongue.
As the door shut behind two of his best friends he turned towards the other one.
"You're quiet tonight, Moony. What's bothering you?"
His friend's mouth twitched as if to speak then set in a firm stubborn line.
"Moony?" James repeated.
Another twitch of the mouth. A sigh. James waited. After a moment Remus closed his book and glanced up blinking and frowning.
"It was wrong what you did today, Prongs," he muttered.
"What, my answer to question ten?"
They'd joked about that coming out of the Defense exam. The five signs of a werewolf, a "gimme" question equally for Remus who had only to remember his own transformed body every full moon and for the three boys who accompanied him as animagi. Well, for two of them anyway. Wormtail Peter was so thick he'd only got three right. Remus didn't smile this time.
"If you really don't understand then I can't make you." His hand hovered briefly over his schoolbook again before clenching into a fist. He scowled. "I should hand in my badge. I'm useless."
"Dumbledore made me prefect so I could be your conscience. And I just sit there every time and do nothing. I know it's wrong and I do nothing."
Oh. That again.
"You dragged us away to go and have lunch," James pointed out.
"Not soon enough." Not till they'd left someone half-dressed and hating them by the lake.
"Oh, come on. It was only Snivelly." Slimy greasy git. Death Eater in training, he'd bet.
"You sound like him when you say that."
James reared up, one hand clenching around the button, the other round his raised wand.
"I – Take that back!"
Steady amber eyes defied angry hazel. Remus shrugged.
"I can take back the words if you want but I can't take back my thoughts. Anyhow, you asked."
"Yes but –"
"Only Snivelly," the blond mimicked savagely. "Only a Mudblood. Doesn't matter what I do 'cos it's only –"
"OK, OK, I get it," James grumbled. "Evans said that too," he grimaced remembering her words, " 'You're as bad as he is.' I'm not, am I?"
"Not yet," Remus muttered unsmiling then shook his head. His face relaxed. "No, I don't think you'll ever be as bad as he is. But you're a prat sometimes."
"I didn't really sound like him, did I?"
Amber eyes mocked him.
"You want me to lie?"
James dropped the button, picked up his pillow and threw it at him. Hard. Remus threw it back.
"He's a slime-ball," James protested. "Rotten, greasy - All he cares about is Dark Arts."
"What makes them dark? What makes anything dark?"
"Eh? You trying to say he isn't?" Hugging his pillow, James stared over it at his friend.
"No, I'm asking what makes the difference. Why is one spell light and another dark?"
James had never asked himself this question. It was too obvious.
"Dark spells are for hurting."
"A lot of hexes hurt but we still use them. Like the Conjunctivitis Curse, would you call that dark?" Remus was leaning forward as if he could stare into James's soul.
"It only hurts a bit. Besides it's temporary."
A pale hand with ragged nibbled nails stabbed at him.
"What if you did it on someone who couldn't undo it, like a Squib or a Muggle? Or a baby? What if you kept renewing it till it made them go blind. Would it be dark then?"
"You're making my head hurt."
Remus leaned further forward. His eyes blazed bright feral gold.
"I turn into a dark creature every month. Why am I not dark?"
"Moony –" James struggled for words. He flung out his hands. The pillow rolled to the floor and he stooped to pick it up again. "You can't help that. Of course it doesn't make you dark!"
"You don't want to hurt anyone," James told him. His glasses were fogging up. He took them off and wiped them on his pillowcase then replaced them to give his friend an earnest stare of reassurance. Trust Moony to get all het up over nothing.
"So what makes a thing dark is that its intention is just to hurt, not self-defense or anything good." Remus demanded.
"So what good thing were you trying to do when you started stripping Snape today?"
James opened his mouth and shut it again. His friend watched and waited.
"Er – um - I was teaching him a lesson."
Remus crossed his arms and tilted his head to one side.
"What, to wear extra underpants?" he sniped.
"No. Moony –"
Watch where you walk?" His eyes hardened. "Go jump in the lake?"
James couldn't help grinning.
"At least he'd get clean." And boy did he need it! Those underpants looked foul.
Remus scowled and flopped down facing away.
"Look, just shut it, OK? I'm going to bed."
"No, I'm listening, I promise. You want me to stop hexing him?" James asked. His thin face screwed up into a doubtful frown. He didn't like what he was hearing but at least Moony was facing him again.
"I didn't say you can't hex him, just not like today when he was minding his own business and you were just –" Remus stopped and folded his lips.
"I was just bored," James admitted.
"No, you were showing off, it was Padfoot who was bored."
"That why you weren't talking to him either?"
"Anything I want to tell him I'll say to his face." I don't know what to tell him.
He raked a hand through his hair stopping with his face resting hidden against his arm. He understood why Padfoot hated Snivellus Snape. The Slytherin represented his other blacker self, everything his parents wanted him to be and he was most afraid of becoming. Beating up on Snape was how he reassured himself he'd never turn into him.
"And Wormtail? You talking to him again?"
"How can I be angry with him? We all know he doesn't have a thought in his brain except how great you two are." And that's not doing any of you any good but I don't know how to change it.
"We three," James grinned.
Remus shook his head.
"No, you two are the comets and we're just the tails." What right do I have to criticise you when I owe you so much? Your friendship gives us everything. Everything.
A/N I can't seem to get away from this incident. I've shown it through Snape's eyes three times in other fics so it was time to try a different angle.